O Come All Ye Faithful!
Christmas Eve 7:30 P.M., December 24
In my childhood church we often sang the old hymn “This Is My Father’s World.” When I think of Christmases past, my Nana’s favorite hymn, the scent of holly and gingerbread, and glow of Christmas Eve candles are all knitted together like the socks we hung from our fireplace mantle.
A line from that hymn has again been playing in my mind: “All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.” It proclaims that God creates everything in love, and calls it good. And in response, the creation sings praise and thanks to God.
The psalmists add their voices:
The Lord is King. The world is firmly established . . . let the earth rejoice;
Let the sea roar . . . let the fields exult . . . Then shall all the trees of the forest sing,
For joy! (Ps. 96)
Let the floods clap their hands, let the hills sing together for joy! (Ps. 98)
The Bible suggests that the natural order recognizes and reveals the Creator, whose creation appropriately responds with a joyful noise of hills and trees singing and clapping. In other words, all nature sings!
From beginning to end, the Bible affirms that the created order is blessed by the One who created it and loves it. And at the center of the story is God’s incarnation in Christ Jesus. It is the bedrock Christian affirmation: God so loves the world as to become part of it; enfleshed in humanness, blessing the world and everything in it coming to live in it, enjoy, and restore it.
The incarnation is an affirmation about the world, its sacredness, its importance to God, and the blessedness of the human life that God came into. Is there a more powerful idea than God choosing to come into and restore the world the same way every one of us came into history, through the struggle of human birth, in the life of a young man, his passionate teaching and healing, his loss, and his mysterious resurrection?
Our familiar carols reach all the way back to the Genesis creation story’s affirmation that creation is good. They echo the psalmist’s proclamation that creation responds to God’s goodness. And they declare that all nature sings in praise and thanks. What an awesome affirmation we are making when we join our voices with the whole chorus of creation!
Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room.
And heav’n and nature sing!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas!